The exquisite French gardens of Chateau Villandry

French potager vegetable garden at Chateau Villandry

Jean Le Breton, Minister of Finance for François I built Chateau Villandry in the 16th Century during the Renaissance with a pure French style. Le Breton created a sublime garden with six key areas around the castle. Water from the Cher and the Loire rivers flow through the grounds rich in fish and bird life. 

1. The Ornamental Garden

Ornamental French garden Chateau Villandry Loire Valley France

The ornamental garden or love garden is made up of four squares framed with perfectly manicured boxwood. The four squares all represent love - tender love, passionate love, flighty love and tragic love. The geometric hedges are shaped like hearts, masks (like the masks worn at masquerade balls), butterfly wings and swords.

2. The Woods

Lime tree hedges contrast the black oak forest at Chateau Villandry French garden

Woods rise up a hillside next to the formal gardens.

Traditional French garden design

The woods at Villandry

The breathtaking views across the castle, gardens, village and valley are worth the climb up the steep hillside.

French garden design ideas Chateau Villandry garden pavilion

There is also a beautiful 18th century Pavillion de l'Audience - a hexagonal building with a slate roof, os de bouef dorma windows and French doors. 

3. The Water Garden

Water garden Chateau Villandry lawn symmetry lime trees

The classical water garden sits higher than the ornamental garden and can serve as a place for peaceful meditation. Lawns, banks and a cloister of lime or tilleul trees reflect in the four fountains and large pond in the shape of a Louis XV mirror. 

Water garden Chateau Villandry lawn topiary boxwood

The end of the pond cascades under a bridge that connects to the moat beside the castle. 

Pond and bridge French garden design

4. The Sun Garden

Perennials in French garden

The sun garden is the newest garden, planted with exotic shrubs, feathery grasses and colourful perennials. 

Grass garden path French garden design ideas

5. The Herb Garden

French herb garden

The aromatic herb garden is a traditional garden planted with species dating from the Middle Ages. Used for cooking and medicinal treatment, it is a fragrant and practical part of the grounds. 

6. The Vegetable Garden

French vegetable garden Chateau Villandry

Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, pumpkins, pulses, lettuces, celeriac and purple cabbages are planted en masse to great visual effect. Standard roses, apple trees and weathered urns add height to the garden. 

Garden symmetry French classic garden

If you are a keen gardener, be sure to check the seasonal advice provided by the head gardener at Villandry. You can learn from his experience by reading his tips about pruning, controlling disease set in the historical context of this magnificent public garden. 

All photos by Chez Pluie. 

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